For Sake of Science They Abused These Girls
By: Warner Todd Huston
“Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind.” –Albert Einstein
Secularists today love to frame the religion vs. science debate as one of “superstitions” against fact as if theistic truth, morality and the spiritual aspect of humanity is meaningless fluff not to intersect with the hard fact and incontestability of science. But, as I quoted Einstein, the patron saint of scientists, there is a part of science that dangerously crosses over into religion’s realm of morality even as secularists try to deny that fact. And here is a story that does, indeed, show scientists crossing over into the realm of evil to satisfy scientific curiosity. It is an evil not as bad as that of a Doctor Mengele to be sure, but one that rises to a level of evil that few would expect in today’s modern age.
Imagine taking twin baby girls and purposefully splitting them up merely as an experiment to observe their lives as they grew up keeping them from knowing of the existence of each other? Would you find justified this dispassionate decision, this coldly scientific decision, to take away a lifetime of sisterhood just to satisfy a scientific curiosity? Apparently Doctor Peter Neubauer, an internationally renowned child psychiatrist, found no struggle with his conscience over such a scientific experiment because that is exactly what he did to identical twins, Paula Bernstein and Elyse Schein, when they were infants. In 1968 Doctor Neubauer used the twin girls for a bizarre and immoral social experiment splitting them away from each other in order to observe how they would progress. They grew up neither knowing that they had an identical twin sister out there.
Nature versus nurture has been a nagging question for scientists for generations. Are we the result of our genes or of our environment goes the raging debate. Apparently, Doctor Neubauer decided to use the lives of these two girls to satisfy his curiosity over the ages old question. And evidently he knew what he was doing would be considered wrong because he ordered that the results of his study be locked in a Yale archive, not to be opened until 2066, long after all concerned should be deceased.
He didn’t have the spine to own up to the consequences of his actions, obviously.
After 35 year apart, however, the girls found each other at long last. Of this inhuman experiment one of the girls, Elyse Schein, recently said, “Nature intended for us to be raised together, so I think it was a crime we were separated.” Of what had occurred to them, her sister Paula said, “It was like something out of a movie, I broke down in tears.”
We all know that the evil scientist who uses his intellectual gifts for evil instead of good is the trope of umpteen B grade horror and sci-fi movies but it isn’t just fiction that has worried over the evil science can do. Einstein often worried over such evil as I relayed in the quote that started this piece. It is said that J. Robert Oppenheimer, one of the creators of the first Atomic bomb, quoted the Hindi Bhagavad Gita upon seeing the power of the weapon he created: “I become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds.” Over the decades, many scientists and inventors have found anguish rewarding them for their scientific experiments that led to weapons inventions, as well. Many say that Alfred Nobel’s Peace Prize was his penance for having invented the destructive power of dynamite. The widow of the inventor of the Winchester rifle went mad and spent her enormous inheritance on sÃ©ances and building and re-building her mansion in odd and unnecessary ways. It turns out that many highly intelligent, even brilliant, scientists have struggled with the fact that science can be used for evil just as easily as it can be used for good.
In the actions of Doctor Neubauer we have a man who gave away his humanity for the sake of a scientific experiment. And, while this particular experiment does not rise to the depths of depravity of Doctor Mengele, famed as the man who performed inhuman experiments in the name of science on live Nazi concentration camp victims, it shows the same sort of unconcern over the ideas of morality and care for their victims. It shows the same lack of human compassion and love that should guide the hand of science.
It shows an utter lack of morality.
But, in the end, that is the road down which science must lead us if it is treated as an end in and of itself. As a creed, as a moral guide, science is insufficient. Science cannot be a moral force for good because it has no provision for considering man “special” enough to safeguard his life, it has no aspect that can make man’s existence sacrosanct. Science, as a singular goal, lacks any kind of morality that religion tries to promote. Science is, in fact, amoral. It is not necessarily anti-human, of course, but it has no special care for humanity at all — neither good nor bad.
And that is just the problem. For, without a soul, science can be used as a justification for the actions of as many Mengeles and Neubauers as it can for Saulks and Madame Curies. Since it has no morality it can be used to justify any use of it despite how dismissive of human life or integrity it can be.
Naturally, religion has been perverted and used to justify any manner of torture and destruction quite unmindful of humanity. This we know. But, at its core, religion always held some group or another as sacrosanct and that is evidence of at least a basic moral code. Religion does not view humanity dispassionately to the point where his very existence is a meaningless cog in an experiment. Some moral system is intrinsic to religion no matter how uneven its observance.
Not so for science. And this is the very thing that Einstein feared when he uttered the quote that began this piece. The uncaring, inhumanity of science must be tempered with the soul of religion before man is reduced to nothing but a pointless collection of chemicals that needs no “rights” and whose existence is placed at the mercy of an ideology that makes of him a mere plaything.
This is a debate we desperately need in an era when science is on the verge of creating the destruction of humanity in new and undreamt of ways. But, we’d best not wait too long to have it, lest it become too late. It is certainly a discussion that neither the evil Doctor Mengle nor Doctor Peter Neubauer ever considered important enough to entertain. And humanity has been diminished as a result.